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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

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Be Safe: Intervention Resources for Individuals with Autism

Overview

These resources are designed to provide information and tips on how to provide support to individuals with autism who may have experienced sexual abuse or assault. There are general resources that are appropriate for all ages and developmental levels, as well as specific resources for caregivers, professionals and individuals with autism.

Important Tips and Reminders

If you have experienced sexual abuse or assault: Tell someone.

If you have experienced sexual abuse or assault that no one else knows about, it’s very important that you tell someone about what is happening. Many times, sexual offenders will tell you that the abuse/assault is a secret. This is not true. You always have the right to tell someone you trust. These are some tips for telling about sexual abuse and assault. Telling is the first step in making the abuse or assault come to an end.

  • Choose people who are likely to believe and support you
  • People who support you often will want to help you report what has happened to law enforcement
  • Some individuals, such as care providers, are called “mandatory reporters” and are required by law to report sexual abuse and assault
  • Try to find a time when you can tell the other person in private and when the other person has time to listen and help you come up with a plan for ending the abuse/assault
  • If the person you tell does not believe you or does not help you stop the abuse or assault, keep telling until someone believes you and helps
  • If a person is touching your private parts, use appropriate names for those parts. Private parts are parts of the body covered by bathing suits, including penis, vagina, breasts, buttocks
  • Telling what happened may be stressful – plan to do something to cope with emotions and take care of yourself after you tell

Staying Safe

  • Remember that you are important:  You deserve respect and help when you need it.
  • Know that your body belongs to you: You decide who touches you or does anything to your body.
  • Be assertive: Say no if you do not like something that someone is doing to your body.
  • Ask for help if you need it: Identify someone that you trust. If you need help with your safety or feel uncomfortable about anything with your body, tell that person.
  • Don’t blame yourself: If someone hurts you, it is not your fault – you always deserve to be treated well and with respect.
  • Say Yes to fun, friends, and connection: Be connected to your family, friends, neighbors, or community groups, like volunteering or church groups – check in with your friends and tell them how you are doing.
  • Know your rights: Learn about your rights and about services for people with autism.
  • Be a leader: Show other people that you respect yourself and be a role model to others.

What to do if you are being abused

  • Tell: Let supportive and trusted people in your life know what is happening and how you are feeling
  • Reach out: Seek help from a service provider, someone in your school, work, or community and ask for help about what to do next. See the resource “Linking to Services” for more information
  • Make a plan: Identify who you can contact and what you can do if you see the abuser again or if you are abused again in the future.

How to tell about abuse

  • Identify a person to tell if someone hurts you. This might be a parent, a family member, a friend, a therapist, someone at your school, or someone you work with.
  • Keep telling until someone does something to stop the abuse.

Common Feelings People Have After Sexual Assault or Abuse

You may feel sad, scared, lonely, mad, embarrassed or fearful of the person who hurt you. You may also feel love or anger at the person who hurt you.

Coping With Feelings

It’s normal to experience many different feelings following sexual assault or abuse. It’s important to identify ways for coping with feelings, learn the difference between ways to cope that help and ways to cope that are less helpful.

Some common helpful ways of coping with feelings include:

  • Listen to music
  • Exercise
  • Count to 10 and take some deep breaths
  • Talk to a friend or family member
  • Take time to be alone
  • Relax/take part in a pleasurable activity
  • Express your emotions by crying,
  • laughing, talking to a friend, etc.

When you practice coping with feelings, pay attention to how it made you feel. If a coping strategy was helpful, you’ll feel better afterward. If you still feel bad, it may not work well, and you should try other coping strategies. It’s good to have more than one way to cope, so try a few different ways and find what works best for you.

Prevention of Future Assault/Risk Reduction

  • Improve your knowledge about sex and sexuality
  • Tell people when you feel uncomfortable or want their behavior to change
  • Develop your own rules for personal space and privacy, always tell people to stop when they have broken these rules
  • Know the signs of abuse, tell someone you trust if you think abuse might be happening to you

Remember:

Abuse is never the victim’s fault. The offender is always to blame for the abuse.

Coping skills are ways to handle stress and big feelings that you may have after experiencing sexual abuse or assault. If someone has abused you, you may feel:

  • Grumpy or Bothered
  • Angry
  • Sad
  • Tired all the time
  • Confused
  • Worried or Nervous

You May Also Feel:

  • Like you no longer care about things that used to be important.
  • Like it’s hard NOT to think about the abuse.
  • Like you want to avoid everything and everyone that reminds you of the abuse.

Finding ways to help cope with these feelings may be hard, but is very important.

Learn to identify your feelings. Practice naming the emotions you feel, understand what happens in your body when you feel different emotions and how different people, places, and things lead you to feel different emotions.

Tell the people who care about you, like family and trusted friends, about your feelings

  • Watch TV or a movie
  • Color or draw
  • Listen to music
  • Write in a diary
  • Take some time to be alone
  • Play with pets

It may also help to talk to a therapist or counselor who can help you learn about your feelings and solving problems that lead to negative feelings.

Remember it’s never your fault that you were abused!

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Other downloads

Name Description Type File
Be Safe: Intervention for Individuals Tips for Telling About Abuse or Assault pdf Download file: Be Safe: Intervention for Individuals
Be Safe: Intervention for Individuals Self-Advocacy and Self-Disclosure pdf Download file: Be Safe: Intervention for Individuals
Be Safe: Intervention for Individuals Coping Skills After Experiencing Sexual Assault or Abuse pdf Download file: Be Safe: Intervention for Individuals
Be Safe: Intervention for Individuals Coping Skills for Sexual Abuse pdf Download file: Be Safe: Intervention for Individuals

This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.